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Mom & Tesa Go To Agility Class

Last summer Mom and I headed over to a family friend's house to partake of their homemade agility equipment and see if the dogs (Tesa & Zada) liked it. As it turned out, my German shepherd wasn't too impressed with the concept but the golden retriever absolutely loved it.

I've noticed when I'm home and have the dogs out for a hike in the woods that Tesa is a gamey little Golden – she'll go through, over, under, or even UP anything if she thinks there's any type of gain for her (i.e., lovely smells, food, etc.). She even followed me out onto a felled tree once and got about 10 feet off the ground before she realized "now how do I get down?"

That being said, I was super-excited that Mom decided to enroll in an agility class this fall so she and Tesa could learn what it's all about.

Although she had to miss the last couple of classes (drat, SOMEONE had to go hold down the beach in Puerto Vallarta), she and Tesa had a ball and learned a lot. I even got to attend one of their classes over the long Thanksgiving weekend I spent up North.

The agility facility at Hunts Point is beautiful – very new – and they had all the equipment needed to turn a dog into an agility champ: jumps (including the tire jump), A frame, dogwalk, tunnel, chute, teeter totter, weave poles and of course, the pause table.

Tesa's only trepidation came when she was introduced to the teeter totter – she wasn't QUITE sure she liked the fact that it moved when she did – but I have no doubt with practice she'll master it like she did everything else. I kept thinking how GAMEY she is that she'll try or do anything (especially if there's a treat involved) without fear.

Zada, on the other hand, would've been cowering in the corner the entire time just listening to all the noise in the facility and freaking out at all the weird goings-on. Tesa didn't even flinch at any sudden noises and barely gave the other dogs (there were about 8 total) a passing glance. It was refreshing to be with a dog in that type of environment that was confident enough to just do her thing and have fun in spite of all the commotion.

Mom had obviously practiced a bit with Tesa for class and while they weren't perfect at all the obstacles, they were pretty darn good! The night I went I helped Mom work on the "touch" at the end of the A frame, dogwalk and (eventually) teeter totter: when a dog is actually competing in an agility course, their back feet need to touch the yellow paint at the bottom/end of those obstacles. It's very important to teach the dogs early on that when they hit that portion of the obstacle, they're to pause before moving on; they can't jump over it or they'll lose points.

Tesa caught on very quickly with Mom using my method...I told Mom, "when her front feet hit the floor (and her back feet are still on the obstacle), tell her touch, then shove treats in her face for a few moments and then release her, so she knows there's a REASON to pause there."

After a couple times of this, I had Mom start lengthening the time between treats so Tesa would know it was because she wasn't moving that she was being treated...Eventually, of course, Mom will have to wean Tesa off the treats completely but this was a great way to teach her that when she hits the end of those obstacles she needs to wait with her back feet touching until she's released.

It was super-fun to watch Mom & her bouncy golden retriever bopping around the agility course, having fun and learning together. It made me just a touch jealous that I don't have a dog that's interested in agility...I wanted to jump in there and start running through the course with Tesa!

Hopefully Mom & Tesa continue practicing and maybe they'll even get interested in competition some day :)